Twenty years after gaining independence, the peoples of Central Asia are still struggling to build effective civil societies. Legacy International’s programs encourage citizens to think critically about good governance, learn their rights, and participate in their communities.

Central Asian delegates observe voting in U.S. 2008 elections

To strengthen a  vibrant civil society, citizens must begin by knowing their rights and responsibilities.  In a recent two-year Legacy program to strengthened civil society in Central Asia, Legacy selected 12 community leaders from non-governmental organizations and universities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to travel to the U.S. for training in Legacy’s signature leadership and community development methods.
With three weeks of practical training and a mini-grant of $500 each, participants returned home to positively affect over 19,000 people in three countries through education programs and locally based projects. With Legacy’s support, participants launched innovative projects, which were designed during their training, to increase civic awareness and address critical issues in their communities.

Projects included teaching teens to do public opinion surveys, anti-smoking campaigns, orphanage-support activities; and training housewives to organize community service projects. University representatives developed civic education courses, held debates on corruption, and trained students in election law.

Students and teacher from a school in Kyrgyzstan pose with the civic education class.

In addition, participants trained over 200 new teachers in civics education and worked with youth to develop 100 new action projects. Over 1,000 more students are expected to benefit from pilot courses developed by teachers in the program.